Employment and the National Lottery Community Fund
From a health to a jobs crisis
As a nation, we are now starting to emerge from the crisis of the pandemic and towards the all-important act of recovery and rebuilding that will now follow. New challenges have emerged that must be dealt with, among them issues like endemic loneliness and isolation made all the worse by lockdowns and the health system crisis exacerbated by Covid-19. But also the economic impact, such as closed businesses and others hit by financial hardship, sickness and the widespread uncertainty so prevalent over the last year and half. Some of these issues are new, but most were already here and have merely been made more visible or more severe by the pandemic. One of the most acute of these is employment, or lack of it, for thousands of people young and old across the UK, and with the furlough scheme ending at the end of September the need could soon be even greater.
Why work matters
As our recent report on employment and employability, ‘More than just a job’, made clear, for many people, having a job is not just about earning an income. It is an important part of their identity and life. Working also gives many of us a sense of accomplishment and pride; a chance to meet and interact with others; and a welcome routine and structure to our lives. It can come to help define us, the common question to a stranger at a gathering being “so what do you do for a living?” It shows just how often we use our employment to identify ourselves, and the scale and the scale of the challenge for those experiencing long-term unemployment. There is a strong evidence base showing this and that work is good for both physical and mental health and well-being. Research commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions found that work can be therapeutic and can reverse the adverse health effects of unemployment. That is true for healthy people of working age, for many disabled people, for most people with common health problems and for social security beneficiaries. With UK unemployment currently at 4.7%, we believe this is an important challenge for all of us to address, and as an area in which the National Lottery Community Fund has a great deal of experience, one we want to share our work on.
How we support employment
As an organisation we have supported over 5,300 employment projects across the UK over the past five years, awarding over £717 million of National Lottery funding and £101 million from government and third party sources. We believe that in communities across the UK the support exists, in community groups and charities, for those seeking employment to be given the helping hand that many of us receive without realising. For those furthest from work, dealing with other wider challenges and complex needs, the advice and guidance that those more fortunate receive from families, friends, schools and university is missing. That is why our grantholders support people at all stages, and in all aspects, of their employment journey, in ways that will have a long-lasting impact on their lives. Many of our smaller investments work with specific marginalised/disadvantaged? groups of people, like lone parents, veterans, or carers.
Building Better Opportunities
One of our key funding programmes in this area, Building Better Opportunities (BBO), is a great example of this, improving the employment chances of over 127,000 people in England since it began. BBO funds a variety of projects, ranging from those improving employability for the most disadvantaged, helping those with multiple and complex needs, to improving financial literacy. It focuses on 38 specific geographical areas in England with high levels of unemployment and has shown how this wider approach to helping people on their journey to employment can make a long-term difference. By the end of October 2020, over a third (38%) of the 46,385 participants in BBO had been supported to move from the hardest to reach unemployed group in the UK to a situation where they were in work, studying or actively engaging with further ways to find employment.
Another of our large employment and employability programmes is Talent Match, a programme to support young people in England from the most disadvantaged backgrounds who need help to find work. The programme has supported 27,190 young people since 2013 and succeeded in getting half into employment.
Benefits to the wider community
The benefits of this are wider than just for the individual and make a real societal and economic impact as well. Whether that be the increase in volunteering and social action that comes with engagement with the community groups we support, the changes in communities and wider outcomes when more people living within them start to work, the impact on families, or even the confidence it gives others to try and make a change. On top of this the skills taught by the groups we support last forever. In just one programme, Making it Work, which supported 3,000 lone parents in Scotland to find work (resulting in 935 people gaining employment), around 60% felt they could now write a CV and be prepared for interviews, while 94% felt they could now articulate their strengths and skills, including skills they had gained through parenting
The economic value is also quantifiable and impressive. For example, the employment outcomes for participants in the Making it Work programme in Scotland have been calculated at £11.5 million, with wellbeing outcomes providing an additional £3 million in social value. Talent Match has created at least £3.08 of public benefit for every £1 spent on the programme. The estimated benefit of BBO to the government and wider economy is £2.43 for every £1 invested, rising to £6.43 in social value for every £1 invested.
These are just examples of some of the major programmes we offer, with thousands of grants also going towards small and micro-organisations and community groups that help people into work in different ways. We will be sharing more examples in future blogs, but these include amazing initiatives like ‘Suited and Booted’, a charity that helps vulnerable, unemployed and low-income men to get into employment by providing suitable interview clothing donated by companies and professionals. Or ‘Haircuts for Homeless’ a UK-wide initiative which provides homeless people with free haircuts to help them look and feel better and help them with interviews or any other formal interactions.
The message is clear to us that helping people into work is an important part of our mission, one that helps the individual, the community, and the nation as a whole. This blog has aimed to highlight just some of the organisations, programmes and people we fund in order to do this and we will be writing more in-depth looks at some of our employment funding over the next few months. In the meantime, please do get in touch with me if you have any questions or just want to learn more about the way our funding is helping with employment across the UK.
 http://ohrd.net/is-work-good-for-your-health-and-well-being/ and https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/media/documents/2021_TNLCF_More-than-just-a-job.-The-difference-we-make-for-people-who-are-out-of-work.pdf?mtime=20210504125833&focal=none
ONS Report, Employment in the UK: July 2021